Protesters call for boycott of parent company of Ralphs, Food 4 Less over 'hero pay' dispute

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Protesters rallied Sunday outside a Ralphs supermarket in Long Beach, calling for a boycott.

The demonstrators were upset about a decision by the store's parent company, Kroger, to close two markets -- a Ralphs and a Food 4 Less.

The planned closures were announced in response to a Long Beach ordinance requiring that workers employed by large grocers receive temporary "hero" pay, giving them an additional $4 an hour during the coronavirus pandemic.

"They've got to pay their own day-to-day expenses," said Long Beach resident Maritza Marroquin-Sanders. "Four dollars an hour means a lot to somebody that's on minimum wage or not far off from it."

Demonstrators say closing the locations will put workers out of jobs.

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"What they're going to do is burden California with two million more dollars of unemployment," said protester Koko Dodson. "Where's that four dollars?"

Long Beach Mayor Robert said grocers have been making record profits, adding that he believes the essential workers they employ deserve the wage increase. Protesters said closing the two stores will hurt community residents.

"The locations that they're are choosing to close are what we consider urban locations, locations in North Long Beach, downtown Leach, where the community is Black and Brown, predominately," said demonstrator Anthony Bryson.

But Kroger blamed the planned closures on the city's ordinance.

"The Long Beach ordinance applies only to some but not all frontline workers in the city," the company said in a statement, "and this is a misguided attempt by the city to pick winners and losers."
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